Customer Reviews


12 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a worthy life more than worthily explored
This is an outstanding biography of a man who, paradoxically, had all sorts of unattractive views and kinds of behaviour but nonetheless, as delineated here, is hugely, fallibly human and sympathetic. The title 'A Writer's Life', is taken from Monica Jones, his close friend/companion/soulmate/lover over many years, and it is a just title - incomparably great as a poet,...
Published on 27 May 2012 by hillbank68

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Small Print
This cumbersome book needs to be read sat at a table and with a magnifying glass (and my eyesight is otherwise perfect). This is of course not a star rating of the content but more likely an incidental argument in favour of the Kindle version. Having vowed to never purchase one of those things, I will undoubtedly return to studying the small print when I manage to find...
Published 20 months ago by SP


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a worthy life more than worthily explored, 27 May 2012
By 
hillbank68 "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This is an outstanding biography of a man who, paradoxically, had all sorts of unattractive views and kinds of behaviour but nonetheless, as delineated here, is hugely, fallibly human and sympathetic. The title 'A Writer's Life', is taken from Monica Jones, his close friend/companion/soulmate/lover over many years, and it is a just title - incomparably great as a poet, Larkin also wrote novels (two published, others unpublished or started and never finished), essays, reviews and stories. Indeed, writing was what drove him, along with a great love of jazz, reading and his work as the accomplished Librarian of the Brynmor Jones Library at Hull University. What would seem unpalatable about him - for example, his unwillingness - it was really inability - to commit fully in relationships, his selfishness, his dismissive views on many topics - had their root in self-loathing, so that at one and the same time he could lament his many shortcomings, as he saw them, and recognise that he was a 'genius'. In writing this, however, I am aware that I am over-simplifying to the point of distortion ; what the book makes clear is that this was a very complex man, and the depth and sensitivity of Motion's analysis goes a very long way to revealing what made him what he was. In other words, you have to read the book!! It tells a compelling story, but it also is frequently amusing. In his professional life as a librarian and in his personal life as a shy and sometimes remote friend, Larkin could be very funny, and often his turns of phrase, when Motion quotes him, are quirky and entertaining. There is expert analysis of the poetry, a good deal of quotation from poems we are unlikely to come across, an exploration of his unpublished novels (including the two lesbian romances he wrote as a young man), fascinating insights into his complicated relationships with the small group of women who were really important to him for long or short periods of his life - his mother Eva, Ruth Bowman, Monica Jones, Maeve Brennan, Patsy Strang, Judy Egerton. Betty Mackereth - his rise from the obscurity of the small regional library at Wellington near Shrewsbury to the pre-eminence of Hull where, finally, he had a staff of almost 100 (and where, supported by the Vice-Chancellor, he fulfilled an expert and committed role in the design and building of the new University Library) - and a good deal more. As the book ends with his approaching death and then the reality of it and the funeral, it becames very moving ; and by that time he is, of course, pre-eminent among British poets. Characteristically he dreads the offer of Poet Laureate and refuses it when it comes, partly through shyness, partly through the sense that his best years as a poet are over, though not without a feeling of guilt and also of regret that he has 'let Ted Hughes in' ; 'the thought of being the cause of Ted Hughes being buried in Westminster Abbey is hard to live with'. Motion, of course, knew Larkin well and met him often over a long period of time, but he never allows his personal admiration for the man, which in another context he has called 'love', cloud his assessment of the life and work ; this is a 'warts-and-all' portrayal. I don't think Larkin would have wished it any other way ; it is a wonderful book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading, 29 Nov. 2005
By 
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This is the best biography I have ever read. As a greatly distinguished poet hiself (accepting the Laureateship, whilst Larkin turned it down 25 years earlier), Motion understands the centrality of poetry to Larkin's life, and this is reflected in the book. Larkin's poetry was a continual reflection of his interior states, and so with great empathy and scrupulous research Motion brings these to light. He is unflinching about Larkin's worse aspects and does not absolve Larkin of his racism, sexism and political vituperativeness but explains the impulses from which they sprang. Motion also writes clearly and with no little finesse. A wonderful book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Small Print, 10 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This cumbersome book needs to be read sat at a table and with a magnifying glass (and my eyesight is otherwise perfect). This is of course not a star rating of the content but more likely an incidental argument in favour of the Kindle version. Having vowed to never purchase one of those things, I will undoubtedly return to studying the small print when I manage to find the spare hours at the required peaceful table, magnifying glass in hand.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterious Mr. Larkin, 6 Oct. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
When Larkin's diaries were burnt (at his request) "the Truth" about him became beyond human reach. Motion's book attempts to discover what might have held the contradictions of "Philip Larkin" together, always with a sensitive eye to the poetry and the prose. We are very unlikely to see a book as thorough as this about Larkin's life again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This be the biography, 27 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
An excellent and informative biography which not only informs us of the timeline of Larkin's life, but also helps you, as a reader of his poetry, to understand his work on a more personal level. Motion has written an in-depth, comprehensive and fair biography which, although a long read is worth every minute spent.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Successful, 11 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
It probably takes a good poet to write a decent biog of a great one - and this is successful. The only problem is that Larkin's life is without any real drama - there are no major revelations here - he was a mother fixated, slightly naughty, slightly racist, and successful provincial librarian. But this somewhat drab back story informs his wonderful poetry in ways that become clear once details of that life are revealed. I'm reminded of Alan Bennett's interpretation of one of Larkin's more celebrated lines (you know the one - about parenting). Imagine how incredible Larkin would have been if they really had f*cked him up.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiny, tiny print, 1 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
OK, I'm sure it's a great book and I had really looked forward to reading it -- that is, until I actually opened up this paperback edition and found that I would need a magnifying glass. The print is really tiny! This is a thick book, something like 500 pages. I don't see how my eyesight would survive if I were to actually read this. I'm actually now going to locate a hardback edition instead. Presumably that edition will have normal-size type.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read. Research meticulous and excellent, 17 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
A good read. Research meticulous and excellent.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 5 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
good background to Larkin. Very readable
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thorough and compelling exposition of one of the poet, 3 Nov. 2000
This review is from: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Paperback)
This book takes us through (as you would expect) the life history of Philip Larkin, perhaps one of our finest, yet most misunderstood poets. We see the main protagonists in his life: Martin Amis & chums from Oxford in an almost Evelyn Waugh-esque setting. I was left with the feeling that this Man for whom writing was perhaps his only passion, was essentially a deeply confused (particularly sexually) but brilliant character.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life
Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Sir Andrew Motion (Paperback - 7 Mar. 1994)
15.58
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews